GP/Grievous Angel

GP/Grievous Angel

Gram Parsons
GP/Grievous Angel
Reprise Records CD 9 26108-2

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“It is so great to have two wonderful albums on one CD. If you could only have one Gram CD, this would be the one you would want to own. Consider this the GP equivalent to The Beatles’ White Album.” – Lar

01 – Still Feeling Blue (Gram Parsons) 2:38Link
02 – We’ll Sweep Out The Ashes In the Morning (Allsup) 3:13Link
03 – A Song For YouLink
04 – Streets Of BaltimoreLink
05 – She
06 – That’s All It TookLink
07 – The New Soft ShoeLink
08 – Kiss The ChildrenLink
09 – Cry One More TimeLink
10 – How Much I’ve LiedLinkLink
11 – Big Mouth Blues
12 – Return Of The Grievous AngelLinkLink
13 – Hearts On FireLinkLink
14 – I Can’t Dance
15 – Brass ButtonsLinkLink
16 – $1000 Wedding
17 – Medley Live From Northern Quebec
17a – Cash On The Barrelhead
17b – Hickory WindLinkLink
18 – Love HurtsLinkLink
19 – Ooh Las Vegas
20 – In My Hour Of DarknessLink

Produced by Gram Parsons & Rik Grech
Recorded at Wally Heider Studio
Engineered by Hugh Davies & Ed Barton / Remix Editer: Hugh Davies

Gram Parsons – Lead Vocals, Acoustic Guitar
Emmylou Harris – Vocals
Barry Tashian – Vocals, Rhythm Guitar
Rik Grech, John Conrad – Bass
Ronnie Tutt, John Guerin, Sam Goldstein – Drums
Glen D. Hardin – Piano, Organ
James Burton – Electric Lead Guitar, Dobro
Al Perkins, Buddy Emmons – Pedal Steel
Byron Berline – Fiddle
Alan Munde – Banjo on “Still Feeling Blue”
Hal Battiste – Baritone Sax on “Cry One More Time”
Ron Hicklin, Tom Bahler, Mitch Grodon, Lewis Morford – Background Vocals on “Kiss The Children”
Musicians under the direction of Glen D. Hardin
Special thanks: Philip Clark Kaufman, President, Executive Nanny Service and Richard J. Cano, Whose diesel rig appeared on the inner liner of the original issue of GP
Recorded September – October, 1972
Originally Released January, 1973

Cover Photo by Barry Fienstein

Grievous Angel
Produced by Gram Parsons for Tickner-Dickson Productions
Recorded at Wally Heider Studio 4 & Capital Records Studios, Hollywood, California
Mixed at Capital Records Studios, Hollywood, California
Engineered & Mixed by Hugh Davies

Gram Parsons – Lead Vocals, Acoustic Guitar
Emmylou Harris – Vocals
Glen D. Hardin – Piano
James Burton – Electric Lead Guitar
Emory Gordy – Bass
Ronnie Tutt – Drums
Herb Penderson – Acoustic Rhythm Guitar, Electric Rhythm Guitar on “I Can’t Dance”
Al Perkins – Pedal Steel
Bernie Leadon – Acoustic Rhythm Guitar on “Return Of The Grievous Angel,” Electric Lead Guitar on “Hearts On Fire,” Dobro on “In My Hour Of Darkness”
Byron Berline – Fiddle on “Return Of The Grievous Angel” & “In My Hour Of Darkness,” Fiddle & Mandolin on “Cash On The Barrelhead”/”Hickory Wind” Medley
N.D. Smart II – Drums on “Hearts On Fire” & “In My Hour Of Darkness”
Steve Snyder – Vibes on “Hearts On Fire”
Linda Ronstadt – Background Vocal on “In My Hour Of Darkness”
Background blah-blah on Northern Quebec Medley by Kim Fowley, Phil Kaufman, Ed Tickner, Jane & Jon Doe
Special thanks: Philip Clark Kaufman, President, Executive Nanny Service, Kaphy, Tom, Gina, Agnes, Midnight
Recorded Summer, 1973
Originally Released January, 1974
Byron Berline appears courtesy of United Artists Records
Linda Ronstadt and Bernie Leadon appear courtesy of Asylum Records
Cover Photo by Ginny Winn

Compilation Directors: Marley Brant & John M. Delgatto
Special thanks: Charlie Springer, Kevin Laffey, Don Brown, Tracy Bader, Mark Leviton, Hugh Davies, Kathie Montgomery, Al Perkins
Analog to Digital Mastering: Lee Herschberg

Liner Notes:

GP & Grievous Angel

“Gram Parsons was on loan to us for a little while, but we didn’t look up fast enough” wrote Mark Leviton in Bam Magazine. Gram’s GP and Grievous Angel albums were originally released in January 1973 and January 1974: a short time-frame indeed. Although he had already made groundbreaking musical statements with the Byrds (Sweetheart Of The Rodeo), with Chris Hillman and the Flying Burrito Brothers (Gilded Palace Of Sin and Burrito Deluxe) and had influenced Keith Richards’ and Mick Jagger’s country music attempts (“Honky Tonk Women” etc.), it was these two solo albums that remain foremost in our memories. From 1972 until his death in September 1973, Gram Parsons created his vision of “Cosmic American Music” on his own terms. His innovations were far ahead of offerings by most of his contemporaries, especially in country music. On country radio, Donna Fargo (“Happiest Girl In The Whole USA”) and Charlie Rich (“Behind Closed Doors”) were popular. Heaven forbid if more than a snare drum with brushes was heard at the Grand Ole Opry. And certainly no self-respecting male country performer would dare to wear his hair below his ears! Willie, Waylon, Hank Jr. And Charlie Daniels had yet to make their “outlaw” statements. That wouldn’t happen until almost two years after the release of Grievous Angel. Willie had not even played the Armadillo World Headquarters in Texas, although Gram and the Fallen Angels performed there on February 21, 1973.

The pop/rock music charts of the day contained such lightweight hits as “Tie A Yellow Ribbon ‘Round The Ole Oak Tree” and “Top Of The World”. Elvis brought us Aloha From Hawaii. In the wings lurked the likes of David Bowie and the New York Dolls. This music scored the last vestiges of the Vietnam War, and the summer of 1973 was dominating the Senate Watergate hearings. George Jones had the spirit and the songs, but was still a captive of Nashville. Merle Haggard struck hard with words and fresh musical arrangements, but still bore the image and trappings of an “Okie From Muskogee”. Against this background, Gram Parsons was laying his claim to a new music heritage.

At its onset, Gram approached Haggard to produce what would become the GP album. But Merle thought Gram a “hippie” lacking the salt-of-the-earth mentality. Maybe Merle was not a champion of GP’s music but damn, he made good records. So Gram hired Merle’s recording engineer and mixer, Hugh Davies. He recorded both at country music’s favored West Coast studio, Capital Records, and at rock’s palace of hits, the Wally Heider Studio in Hollywood. He instructed his manager to hire Elvis’ band to play on the sessions. “Gram had a real vivid impression of certain people like Elvis, Merle and others and he tried to follow in their footsteps, right down to the musicians,” commented Al Perkins. Eventually Gram was introduced to Emmylou Harris, someone he could sing harmony with in the best traditions of George Jones and Tammy Wynette.

Hugh Davies recalls that time with fond memories: “I really looked forward to each session and working with Gram.” Davies Remembers Gram allowing him quite a bit of freedom on the mixes for both albums, yet at the same time, “he was interested in getting it recorded with the flavor and style that he wanted.” The musicians were guided by pianist and music director Glen D. Hardin. Al Perkins recalls Glen suggesting various parts to play on each song, with Gram seeing to it that Hardin and the band had plenty of time in the studio to construct, confer and create. “A lot of natural flow,” Perkins claimed.

“James (Burton) and I did twin parts like were heard on country records of the late 50’s and early 60’s, and that were just no longer done.” “I really liked the music,” said Davies. “I could enjoy myself. It was sort of funky country. Not quite rock, but beyond traditional country.”

In between what were to be his only two studio albums, Gram formed a touring band. The Fallen Angels included Emmylou, Kyle Tullis, N.D. Smart II, Neil Flanz and Gerry Mule (replaced in Denver by Jock Bartley). One of the outstanding performances of that tour can be heard on Gram Parsons and the Fallen Angels, Live, 1973, which was recorded before a live audience at radio station WLIR – FM in Hempstead, New York. The day after that show, Gram suggested to a friend that the previous night’s performance “might make one hell of a record.” This was the seed for the so called “Medley Live From Northern Quebec” that appears on Grievous Angel. “They wanted to record a live session with an audience but it could not be worked out” said Al Perkins. “So after we laid down the music tracks and some vocals in the studio, Hugh dug up some audience tapes, added additional sounds provided by Gram and friends.” To this day, people still think there are more ‘live’ tracks from “Northern Quebec!” In addition to music, Gram attempted to break other stereotypes. On stage for every show date of the tour, a Confederate flag was prominently displayed behind the drummer. Can you imagine audiences walking into a club in Chicago, Boston or Philadelphia and seeing a long haired band proudly displaying that flag? This was long before Hank Jr., Alabama, Lynyrd Skynyrd and a host of others unfurled their Southern banners.

After Gram participated in a “Country Rock Festival” held in June in Baltimore and Philadelphia, he began in earnest to finish the second album. Gram initially titled it Sleepless Nights, from a song recorded for the album. These final sessions, once again under the direction of Glen D. Hardin, proceeded smoothly. “Every once in a while Gram would say, ‘Yeah, I like that. Let’s go that way,'” recalls Al Perkins. “And of course everybody in the studio would acquiesce to Gram”

Gram Parsons’ last musical statements, GP and Grievous Angel are once again safe at home, preserved for another generation to discover via the medium of digital electronics. Back in 1973, the front cover of Warner Bros. Records’ in-house publication asked: “Will Gram Parsons’ picture ever hang in the Hall of Fame?” Today, with his influences on both rock & roll (Tom Petty, Elvis Costello, the Rolling Stones, etc.) and country music (Dwight Yokam, Highway 101, Rodney Crowell, etc.), it seems just a matter of time.
John M. Delgatto, 1990

Gram Parson was an enigma. Those who knew him, and many of those who didn’t, have spent considerable time contemplating his didactic verbalizations, the troubled pathways of his life, the complexity of his music – and finally, the pure heart and simple philosophies that made his brief 27 years on this earth memorable and important. Gram could confound with his conflicting stories of background and experience. He could be hard to work with and would sometimes lose interest in the very causes he usually embraced with passion and commitment. Sometimes, he overindulged in some of the temptations he had been raised to avoid at all cost. Yet Gram Parsons based his life’s work on one honest premise: he believed that all people, despite their differences, should talk, attempt to get along and always try their best to live in peace and harmony God had intended for mankind. Out of this basic belief came the music.

Gram sought to marry his love of traditional country music and his generation’s devotion to rock & roll. He felt that by affording each devoted audience the opportunity to share their love of music, maybe a move would be made toward the harmony that he believed possible. “Cosmic American Music,” he called it. A oneness through song. Gram felt qualified, even appointed, to accomplish this goal. Through his solo albums, Gram excitedly introduced material he felt represented this cross-pollination of musical styles. Sometimes, he simply changed the beat of country standards, but he was not afraid to expose his own vulnerability through original material.

Gram’s signature song, “Hickory Wind,” addressed his own complex emotions regarding his Southern roots while evoking the poignancy that touches each one of us who has ever felt a longing to be somewhere other than where we were. “In My Hour Of Darkness” expresses his personal grief at the loss of three very close friends. His faith evident in the refrain of that song, he’s as comfortable publicly requesting the grace of his God as he is discussing his Christian beliefs in “A Song For You” and the gospel-tinged “She.” On the other hand, Gram could sometimes confuse his listeners. His gentle love song “Brass Buttons” actually had its creative basis in his relationship with, and the loss of, his mother. On closer examination “The New Soft Shoe,” seemingly about an automobile designer named Cord, delves into the complexity of human motivations. The song addresses the issue of outward appearances and the practice of accepting others for who we think they might be or for who they themselves believe they are. The somewhat autobiographical “Big Mouth Blues” has been said to be the New York City version of the Parsons/Chris Hillman composition “Sin City” – a song set in L.A. and recorded by the Flying Burrito Brothers. “Return of the Grievous Angel,” a contemporary country ballad dealing with love, loneliness and longing, oddly includes Gram’s disappointment over the fall of one of his former heroes, Elvis Presley. Proving he is capable of writing the country song, Gram offers “How Much I’ve Lied,” “Kiss The Children,” and “Still Feeling Blue.” These two albums include excellent material from Tom T. Hall, Ira and Charlie Louvin, Bourdleaux Bryant, Joyce Allsup, Tompall Glaser and Harlan Howard. Surprise entries by rockers Peter Wolf, Seth Justman, Walter Egan and Tom Guidera bring the presentations full circle, and the vocal harmonies of Emmylou Harris enhance each song on which participates.

All in all, Gram Parsons has succeeded in delivering what he promised: a collection of songl that truly do meld, mend and incite. Gram was aware that he was blazing a trail that might someday result in the redifinition of contemporary country music. Sadly, he would not live to realize ther fruitition of his master plan, Seventeen years after Gram’s death, his image glows even brighter; his influence and inspiration are felt even stronger. Gram Parsons’ songs continue to be recorded, listened to and discussed. His music continues to confound and confuse the very audience it entertains. But his dream has come true…people are talkin’, Gram.
Marley Brant, 1990

More of the music of Gram Parsons is available by direct mail order from Sierra Records, Books and Home Video:

Gram Parsons And The Fallen Angels, Live, 1973 – LP, CD & Cassette
Recorded live at radio station WLIR-FM, New York with Emmylou Harris, Jock Bartley, N.D. Smart II, Neil Flanz and Kyle Tullis. Includes the Grammy-nominated duet “Love Hurts.”

Gram Parsons – The Early Years – LP, CD & Cassette
Folk recordings from the early 60’s of Gram’s group, The Shilohs. Includes an informative booklet of notes and photographs.

Gram Parsons – A Music Biography – A book by Sid Griffin
Contains articles and interviews with some of Gram’s closest friends and associates including Emmylou Harris, Peter Fonda, Jim Stafford and Chris Hillman plus recently unearthed oral history from Gram himself. Over 150 photographs are featured, many previously unpublished, including Gram’s childhood, his days with Rolling Stone Keith Richards and his final tour in 1973.

A catalog is available detailing these releases plus recorded performances by Clarence White, Gene Parsons, the Kentucky Colonels, Nashville West and others. Home Video releases are included as well as news and information regarding the annual Nashville Music Tribute to Gram Parsons and Clarence White. Please write to:

Sierra Records, Books and Home Video
Post Office Box A5853
Pasadena, California 91117-0853